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New active neighbourhood in Heaton Park: how to have your say on plans to limit cars

If it gets approval, the active neighbourhood will be next to a major Greater Manchester green space.

Residents are being asked to have their say on plans to create an active neighbourhood in Greater Manchester.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) is encouraging people to give their views on the proposals for the low-traffic area in Heaton Park in Bury.

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Active neighbourhoods restrict motor vehicles’ access to certain streets in a bid to improve air quality and encourage walking and cycling, but have proven controversial when tried elsewhere in Greater Manchester.

Anyone wishing to comment on the Heaton Park plan has until 20 March to submit their opinions.

What is the proposal for the active neighbourhood in Heaton Park?

The neighbourhood is bound by Heywood Road, Bury Old Road and Scholes Lane and has the Metrolink tram line running roughly through the middle of it.

Transport bosses say the intention of the scheme is to improve the safety and appearance of Whittaker Lane, as well as creating better links to the park, local schools and transport hubs.

The area was also chosen as it was felt there were potentially positive implications from restricting motorised traffic for Prestwich Village and making it possible to get to the trams without having to use the car.

The comments and suggestions received during this consultation will then be fed back to Bury Council along with a feasibility report which will be drawn up by the city-region’s transport authorities.

What has been said about taking part in the consultation?

TfGM said an active neighbourhood is usually proposed where residents and community groups are already asking for improvements and management of the traffic in their local area.

The organisation said it was supporting Bury Council in the engagement and consultation process which forms part of drawing up the scheme.

A spokesperson said TfGM wants to ensure everyone has an opportunity to comment on the proposals in order to ensure Bury Council delivers a project that is supported by residents in the area.

They encouraged anyone to get involved if they live in the area.

Why are active neighbourhoods being rolled out in Greater Manchester and are they popular?

Active neighbourhoods, which usually involve bollards or planters known as modal filters being placed at the entrance to a number of roads, are considered by transport authorities to be a way of cutting down through traffic and rat-running.

This, it is hoped, makes the residential areas where the neighbourhood is situated quieter, less polluted and more suitable for children to play out or residents to take part in community activities.

The authorities say 30% of trips under a kilometre in length in Greater Manchester are done by car, and there is therefore considerable scope to make it more attractive to do these on foot or by bike.

Active neighbourhoods are part of the Bee Network, which should eventually span some 1,800 miles of cycling and walking infrastructure. It is hoped that allowing people to leave the car at home for taking the children to school or going to the shops will make the city-region a healthier, less congested and less polluted place.

The Heaton Park scheme is part of a project to bring in one active neighbourhood in each of the 10 Greater Manchester boroughs, plus additional ones in Bolton and Stockport.

This is being delivered by walking and cycling charity Sustrans and independent professional services firm Arup in conjunction with TfGM and the 10 local authorities in the city-region.

There have been areas in Greater Manchester where traffic has been restricted around residential housing for some years but the latest introductions of active neighbourhoods (also sometimes called low traffic neighbourhoods or LTNs) have proven controversial.

There has been fierce debate in cities such as London between those pro and anti the LTNs and there are also different opinions in Greater Manchester.

The Levenshulme active neighbourhood, for instance, has both a residents’ group in favour of the scheme and one against it.